Apr 16

The risk of not…

Posted: 12 April 2016

Our CEO Sharon Allen submitted this blog for the National Care Forum (NCF) newsletter 

The importance of valuing the workforce was a recurring theme of discussions I was engaged in at the Skills for Care national conference. Or rather the risks we are taking if we don’t value, and demonstrate that we value the people who provide care and support to people in our communities’ day in and night out.

If you just looked at the media coverage of our sector you might assume that people were being routinely abused in badly-run establishments. While no-one would condone bad practice, or challenge the right of families or journalists to expose abuse, this is far from a balanced picture of our sector.

Up and down the country there are endless examples of not only great practice, but organisations that are genuinely being innovative in how they provide high quality service based on core values like respect, dignity, compassion and person-centred care: the kind of great care that wraps itself around you, how and when you need it.

So what does it do to worker morale and motivation when the only public commentary is either about poor practice or a conflation of low pay with low skilled work – when in reality good quality social care is a highly skilled role?

Social care is a people business. Focusing on relationships between the people who depend on care and support and their carers and the people employed to provide that care and support. It is a truism often heard that an organisation’s staff is its most valuable asset. This couldn’t be truer than in adult social care where the quality of care and support people receive is dependent on the quality, competence and confidence of the workforce. Therefore, our sector must nurture and harness this asset to its fullest potential – but how do we do this?

Values-based recruitment sets the tone from the start of the employment relationship. Having strong values with personalisation at their core is something that must permeate all of the learning and development and staff support of an employer. Values must inform the approach to supervision, to annual appraisal, to team meetings and peer support sessions as outlined in the Social Care Commitment.

What we’re really talking about here is the culture in the organisation, a culture that must see that personalisation has to be at the heart of the way care and support is provided for people and equally it must be at the heart of the way the employer recruits, retains and develops their staff. Taking an assets based approach - focusing on people’s strengths and abilities, on what they can do and do well- rather than what is referred to as the deficit model, focusing on where people need support with, or may not be so able to do.

Skills for Care’s culture toolkit supports organisations of all sizes and sectors to look at how they can develop the culture for the people they support and for the staff providing that support. Creating the right culture is a key leadership responsibility and the role of the registered manager is crucial here so we have also developed a wide range of support for this vital group of professionals based on our Leadership Qualities Framework.

So let’s challenge poor care when we see it; but also understand the risks we run by not also celebrating our brilliant social care workforce, and demonstrate the value they bring to citizens and wider society by investing in them as individuals.